IndustriALL has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a number of leading brands in the garment industry. The aim of the agreed process, known as ACT, is to establish systems of industry-wide collective agreements supported by brand purchasing practices as the primary means of wage-fixing in the global garment industry.
The MoU is explicit in identifying the development of industry bargaining in garment producing countries as essential to achieving living wages and the need for effective recognition of workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in order for this to be realized.
In the context of global supply chains, where the buyers at the top of the supply chain have the greatest power to influence where value is distributed along the chain and how much of it ends up in the hands of workers, reform of purchasing practices in support of industry bargaining is essential.
By linking national industry-level collective bargaining between unions and employers to the purchasing practices of brands, the ACT process creates a framework for genuine supply chain industrial relations. Through industry bargaining, workers can get a wage that is enough to properly support themselves and their families, and at the same time the specific nature of the industry, working hours, productivity and other issues that have bearing on wages, can be addressed.
For the first time, the ACT process aims to create a system that, by addressing the structural barriers to living wages, has a genuine chance of increasing garment workers’ wages in a way that is scalable, sustainable and enforceable.